Red Locks

Just a little cathartic writing, haven't written stories for pleasure since 2014 so this might just lightly suck but reading is entirely up to you :P

Chapter 1

Crimson Politics

by: FerSure
I thought of him in the most inappropriate moments.

He invaded my mind in the mornings while I took a cold shower, when I took sips of scalding black coffee, when my lips touched a cigarette, and lately, when business was meant to be the only thing in my mind.

Hollis always had a pervasive presence like that; it was how he'd originally squeezed his way into my path. Luckily, there'd always been something there reminding me of what truly mattered.

"Carmen, what do you think?" Johnston asked during the meeting, catching me totally off-guard.

Maxim Johnston, President of the Greymount University Conservative Party, was there to snap me back to reality that moment.

"Would you excuse me? I'd like to discuss with my team and organize our thoughts," I answered, all lies.

I'd barely paid attention to the entire meeting: Hollis ran through my mind like a non-stop film, never stopping for a break, giving me enough time to catch my breath and focus on the surroundings. Exactly one month ago, he bought me a teal blazer I could never afford- the one I wore to that very meeting- because "he felt it"

and I couldn't help but wonder what made him stop feeling it.

The main problem was, there was no one I could talk to about it: the whole ordeal had been a secret affair. As a strong, powerful nineteen-year-old future politician, I had to suck up my melancholy and focus on the current affairs. The student body did not care about my mental health, as long as any problems were not too-overt, and the agenda did not wait for me to catch my breath, so it was my decision: follow my passion or follow a man.

"He's crazy- he's suggesting we pick an "anti-abortion" stance," my secretary, Cris, complained.

I connected the dots and figured out we were discussing the stance of the Latin Pre-Law Society, which I [unfortunately] presided, on abortion. Of course, even with the whole Hollis issue, I took out time to read enough of the school papers to figure out there had been some controversy on the topic of abortion with the Greymount School of Medicine and their speculated experiments on unborn children. Sensationalists called it "eugenics," or "breakthrough," but to the majority of us rational ones, talk about the experiments was just a conspiracy theory taken too far. I was surprised that the political unions had felt the urge to convene a meeting to discuss stances.

"I don't think it's fair to our organization- we have people with all sorts of political ideologies" Laura, my vice president, intervened. She had a valid point, and I mostly agreed.

"Johnston and his party see our community as a homogeneous group of all-Catholic members, and therefore assume that since we're Hispanic and Catholic, we must all be against abortion," I noted calmly, not nearly as shaken up as Cris and Laura about the situation.

"Are you serious? Gosh, I had not thought of that," Laura said, annoyed, "whitey's starting to get on my nerves again."

We laughed.

That was the problem: I could not be with Hollis because he was white. Rich, dabbled somewhat in cultural-appropriation and not big into activism, Hollis was the antithesis of everything I seemed to stand for, because those days, I hardly knew what to believe in anymore.

The things that I did know for certain were that we had similar tastes in music- or at least I got him into Lana del Rey and he returned the favor with Alice in Chains- we shared the same hair color with 2% of the population, us blessed red-heads, and the same zodiac sign, even if we had been born years apart. After long, distressing meetings like that particular one, I enjoyed showing up at his apartment and messing up my carefully-tied-to-perfection bun on his couch, trading the confining blazers, blouses, pencil skirts and heels for one of his old college shirts and bare feet. Breaking it off hurt twice as much in those moments, when I had to walk back to my sad dorm and lie in those uncomfortable clothes for hours, waiting for my next meeting with my headphones on and an Alice in Chains song instead.

"The Greymount Latin Pre-Law Society will not officially have a stance for Tuesday's Town Hall Meeting, we're hoping to make it a more democratic decision and perhaps have our members vote on the issue," I announced to Johnston and his fellow daddy's boys.

"I pray that you re-think your position, Carmen. Your backing would quite help us and the Federalist Party. Besides, as a Christian yourself, think of the Lord when you release your statement," Johnston, the dirty bastard, tried to put me against a wall. Fortunately, by then I had spent years crafting ingenious comebacks against crooks like him, so I did not fail the test as he eagerly expected me to.

"Frankly, I do not let my opinions dictate the course of the organization that has appointed me as their leader, and it is of very bad taste to bring my personal ideologies into this matter, Johnston," I artfully retorted.

"My apologies if I was being too invasive. Meeting dismissed, members of the Greymount Conservative Party, please stay behind, there is something I want to discuss with all of you," he said.

As soon as Johnston was done, we grabbed our folders and disappeared faster than when Hollis went through an entire box of cigarretes.

No, wrong, I told myself.

"Anyone care to catch lunch? My treat," Cris offered.

"Heck yes, you know I never say no to free food," Laura answered immediately.

"I don't know, I'm feeling a litte-" I began, but soon, Laura interceded.

"She would love to, c'mon, free non-dining-hall food, Carrot," she said.

"Thank you, Cris," I gave in.

"Any time- especially after you so-elegantly shut down that asshat."

"Oh my gosh, yes! You almost made the witch cry," Laura exclaimed.

"You guys- where are we heading, by the way?" I asked.

"This new place called "Hashtag Cafe," I've heard good things and apparently, the stuff is cheap," Chris said, "Oh, and yes, I've checked, they have vegan options."

"Good," I replied.

The place was small, yet cozy, with a distinct hipster feel to it, down to the smell of burning incense at the entrance. The three of us stood like posts in front of the counter, scanning the menu for anything that looked mildly appetizing- granted, though, anything beat dining hall food.

"Can I help you?" the cashier asked, while I was looking up at the menu. I looked down to meet his eyes and-

they were there: the deceiving dark brown pupils that chased brunettes with ample chests and skimpy clothing, that had once fooled me into thinking I was even moderately attractive in all of my 90-pound boyish glory.

I hated him. Why was he everywhere?

"Yeah, I'll have a Virginia ham sandwich with a side of chips and a latte," Laura ordered before I could jump the counter and gouge his gorgeous eyes out with my stilettos.

Cris placed his order too, and by then, all eyes were on me. My stomach felt revolted, and I could hardly take looking at Hollis any longer, so I had to make a fast decision.

"I'm not hungry, I'll just have a green tea," I said, looking at the menu to avoid meeting his gaze.

"You sure about that? You look more like a black coffee kind of gal," Hollis retorted, trying to be funny. He did lack social grace for the most part, but I forgave it in the past. In that moment? Not so much.

Black coffee had been "our thing," much like red hair, cigarettes and making fun of rom-coms. His family came from a coffee-growing town, so his mother often sent up packages of the strong drug, which I'd learned to take dark and sugar-free with him. Adjusting to dining hall coffee, brewed with beans from hell and toilet water, had been a pain, but for my luck, green tea had shown up to save me.

"I ordered green tea."

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